“The king and the queen will stand to the child;
‘Twill be handed down in song;
And it’s no more than their deserving,
With my lord so faithful at Court so long,
And so staunch and strong.
“O never before was known such a thing!
‘Twill be a grand time for all;
And the beef will be a whole-roast bullock,
And the servants will have a feast in the hall,
And the ladies a ball.
“While from Jordan’s stream by a traveller,
In a flagon of silver wrought,
And by caravan, stage-coach, wain, and waggon
A precious trickle has been brought,
Clear as when caught.”
The morning came. To the park of the peer
The royal couple bore;
And the font was filled with the Jordan water,
And the household awaited their guests before
The carpeted door.
But when they went to the silk-lined cot
The child was found to have died.
“What’s now to be done? We can disappoint not
The king and queen!” the family cried
With eyes spread wide.
“Even now they approach the chestnut-drive!
The service must be read.”
“Well, since we can’t christen the child alive,
By God we shall have to christen him dead!”
The marquis said.
Thus, breath-forsaken, a corpse was taken
To the private chapel–yea –
And the king knew not, nor the queen, God wot,
That they answered for one returned to clay
At the font that day.